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What Should You Do When Charged With Identity Theft?

By Hager & Schwartz, P.A.

January 14, 2021

A person’s identity is unique, and it acts like a fingerprint for bank accounts, credit reports, and very important life details. There are times when a person tries to take another individual’s identity. Identity theft is defined as a crime that involves one person stealing or using another person’s identity or personal information in a way that includes fraud and deception for monetary gain. If you have been accused of identity theft, it is important to have an experienced attorney by your side.

Most Common Forms of Identity Theft in 2020

  • Phishing.

Thanks to today’s technology and people’s reliance on computers and social media for communication and bill paying, phishing is quite common. This involves tricking an individual to disclose personal information like his or her social security number, credit card data, and bank account codes. Many times, a person poses as a representative from a trusted company or organization.

  • Mail Theft.

In recent years, mail theft has gotten quite sophisticated. Besides stealing checks for mailboxes, people intercept credit cards and other banking information and make unauthorized charges.

  • Driver’s License Identity Theft.

Besides taking someone’s wallet for his or her credit cards, a person may take another’s driver’s license. This item contains personal information, and it may be used by another individual as fake identification during traffic stops.

  • Account Takeover Fraud.

Account takeover fraud makes up more than half of all fraud in this country. When a person creates a password online, it is possible to hack into a company’s site and steal all sensitive and personal information, especially on websites that are not encrypted properly.

What Are the Penalties for Identity Theft?

Punishments for identity theft vary by state. Federal laws carry their own penalties. Here’s what can happen:

  • Getting a conviction for identity theft can potentially get you a year or more in jail. Generally speaking, the higher the value of the theft, the longer the jail time will be.

  • Felony fines can exceed $5,000depending on the case. Misdemeanor fines can exceed $1,000. Felony fines can exceed $5,000.

  • If an identity theft victim is harmed financially or loses money as a result of the theft, the perpetrator may be ordered to pay restitution to the victim. Restitution ideally will help cover the losses of the victim.

  • States can require criminals to compensate identity theft victims for the trouble they caused even if the victim suffered no direct financial loss. Credit reports can take months to straighten out, and the victim’s financial standing and purchasing power can be severely damaged in the meantime.

  • The courts may impose a probation sentence for first-time offenders who have not caused significant harm. This sentence might be in addition to or separate from other penalties. Probation can be as long as three years. With a probation sentence, offenders must report regularly to a probation officer, pay all fines, make restitution, and stay out of trouble.

What Should You Do Next?

If you or a loved one has been charged with identity theft, often the next best step to take is to talk to a criminal defense lawyer. The cost of fines combined with the cost of having a conviction on your record can be detrimental.

At Hager & Schwartz, P.A., we may be able to help with your charges today. Call us today to talk to someone about setting up your defense for your case. (954) 840-8713.